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Why some Americans still see Obama as foreign
Our country has long been slow to accept any public figure who seems too 'exotic,' says Timothy Egan at The New York Times
 
Obama is viewed as "the other," just as Mitt Romney, a Mormon, would have been just a few decades ago, says Timothy Egan at The New York Times.
Obama is viewed as "the other," just as Mitt Romney, a Mormon, would have been just a few decades ago, says Timothy Egan at The New York Times.
CC BY: The White House

The racially motivated "shameful episode" surrounding President Obama's birth certificate is a reminder that Americans have always been suspicious of "the other," writes Timothy Egan at The New York Times. Just a few generations ago, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney would have been vilified for being a Mormon, a religion then labeled as a "devil's cult," and faced a vicious backlash "led by Mormon-haters and the Trumps of his day." These days, though, Romney, "whose ancestry includes six polygamous men with 41 wives," is considered harmless and 'white-bread,' because the country has finally conceded that Mormons are Americans too. Can mixed-race politicians with "exotic backgrounds" like Obama expect a similar outcome in a few years? Here, an excerpt:

The father [Obama] never knew was from a Kenyan goat-herding family, and the stepfather he barely knew was an Indonesian whose main passion was tennis. Obama was raised mostly by white grandparents from Kansas, and a free-spirited mother with a passion for education.

It’s a miracle of sorts... that Obama’s own family with Michelle now seems so grounded — and normal. It’s also startling that Romney... is now considered an icon for traditional family values. Mitt’s great-grandmother, Hannah Hood, wrote how she used to 'walk the floor and shed tears of sorrow' over her husband’s many wives.

The background of both men is telling, in one sense: how success can emerge from the blender of American ethnicity and lifestyle experimentation. But it takes a generation, or more, for many people to get used to the novelty, as the long, despicable sideshow over Obama’s birth certificate demonstrates.

Read the entire article at The New York Times.

 

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